I vividly remember April 20, 1999. It was my 15th birthday. I was a goth teenager, and I remember walking through the halls in the afternoon, wearing my full length black cloak, and the side-eyed look I got from teachers and students alike- wondering if my cloak wasn't really some kind of trench coat, if I wasn't part of the "Black Trench Coat Mafia."
For dinner that night we had mashed potatoes and fake chicken, my favorite. I listened to the radio while my mother prepared my birthday dinner, listened to news of how many kids my age were dead, of how many more might have died, adult voices saying this was an unprecedented tragedy.
In the following months, article after article came out about school shooting, and school shooters. I devoured them. I still have the pages cut from my Rolling Stone in 1999, about how these shooters got the guns they used to kill so many people.
These shootings weren't unprecedented then. And now, they're a weekly occurrence. I believed then that grownups would fix things. I believed grownups would do the right thing, the safe thing, and make things better. Make it harder for angry, entitled kids with immature brains that couldn't stop them from acting on dangerous instincts to put their hands on dozens of guns and hundreds of bullets and kill everything that moved in a place they hated.
I was wrong.
Now, I am a grownup. I'm doing what I can to protect my kids, their friends, every kid in their school and school district and state and country. Watching the students at Columbine walk out today, walking through the same doors seared into my memory, their glass shattered and the sidewalk strewn with bullets, the same doors that students ran through in terror on my fifteenth birthday, and hear them saying NO MORE... it's harrowing, and moving, and it breaks my heart that nineteen years have passed- NINETEEN YEARS- that babies born in the year of the massacre have grown to adulthood and passed through these doors and STILL never seen change.
The time is so long past, the time to act and to stop this madness was long before my fifteenth birthday. The kids walking out of their schools today, I know they're not doing it for me. But they are. They're doing it for the girl who was terrified of being murdered in her school, who was terrified of being mistakenly singled out as dangerous because of her predilection for black cloaks and heavy eyeliner. They're doing it for my children, to make the world safer for them, and that makes my world safer, too.
Thank you, kids. Thank you, you brave activists. Thank you.
Thank you to putting voice to what my generation could not. Thank you for helping to save us.
Read more about the unsolved problems of my adolescence here: I Was Flashed
Read my most recent post here: Twice a week, the NRA Reaps our Children
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